Jim and Mary Allen along with their daughter Jessie own and operate a 200 deeded acre irrigated hay ranch four miles north of Lander, WY (pop. 7,500, elevation 5,500’). We raise and train horses for our own use and have a small herd of Angus cattle. We market our Angus calves as natural, hormone free grass fed calves at the local sale barn and we keep a steer for our own use. We also own and operate a 9,200’ elevation wilderness guest ranch from which we outfit clients into the high, alpine wilderness of the Wind River Range for climbing, fishing, hunting and yoga retreats.
Jim Allen’s family has been in ranching in the Lander Valley since the 1860’s and 1870’s. They came in wagons and on horses to build a new life and enjoy the freedom and adventure that the west provided. Our goals are to produce healthy beef on a healthy land base to pass on to our children and their children. We are temporary stewards of the land and water. It is also our goal to raise and train horses for our own use and for our wilderness pack trip guests. Our guest operations help pay the ranch bills and provide cash flow. We typically calve in late April and May, instead of February, to mimic the wildlife and bison calving season. Irrigation is a must in the arid west and we are no different. We have 1868 water rights and divert water from the North Fork river that flows through our ranch, to irrigate our grass hay meadows. That requires late April ditch and field preparation in order to begin water flow in early May. While we are irrigating, we brand our calf crop in late May or early June. Then we prepare our 9,500’ forest service grazing allotment for July 1 turnout. That entails getting water flowing to the tanks and fence maintenance. We are also busy shoeing horses and hauling them to and from spring pasture. During July we turn to harvesting the hay crop using a New Holland windrower, two 100 horsepower New Holland tractors, a small square baler and a big round baler. Some of the small bales are trucked to the guest ranch and all the round bales are stacked on the home ranch for winter use. By late August, we begin trucking older horses home from the guest ranch and all of them by end of September. During July and August, we perform range monitoring and ride through our cows and calves on the grazing allotment checking for sickness and water tank levels. October is when we pick up and stack gated irrigation pipe and guide hunters for big game. By November, our cows and calves are on fall and winter pasture until we wean calves for sale in January. The horses are also on fall/winter pasture until the snows come and we feed hay.
We utilize cross fencing for pasture rotation and higher intensity, low frequency grazing practices. We aim to raise natural beef and healthy livestock free of hormones and supplements. Jim Allen has a BS is in Range Management from the University of Wyoming and he also served five years in the Wyoming House of Representatives and served on the House Agriculture Committee dealing with water rights, brand inspections, state vet rules for livestock diseases, animal cruelty statutes and a broad range of ag issues.
What will an apprentice do?
An apprentice would live and work on our home ranch (near Lander) and work with us on a daily basis. They would learn to irrigate, brand calves, operate hay machinery, shoe horses, doctor horses and cattle, noxious weed identification and control, range management, range monitoring, attend irrigation meetings, build and maintain corrals and fences and general ranch work. They would also learn high intensity, low frequency grazing techniques.
What skills and traits are required in an apprentice?
- Valid Driver’s License
- Great attitude and strong work ethic
- We require a self-motivated and savvy apprentice. We’ve taught hundreds of young people ranching skills and the best ones were self-motivated, early risers, enthusiastic, hard-working, quick learning, friendly and likeable.
What skills and traits are desired in an apprentice?
- Proficiency at driving a ¾ or one ton manual transmission pick-up truck. Horse riding experience is very helpful but not a deal breaker. Mechanical skills are very helpful too.
Nuts & Bolts
Start Date: April 15-October 31
Length of Apprenticeship: 6-7 months
Stipend: DOE, we will provide a stipend of $800-$1,200/month plus housing, utilities and some meat and occasional meals
General work hours: Typical work week is 7:30am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday, half day Saturday, Sundays off after the morning cattle move. However, there are seasonal responsibilities (calving, AI breeding, haymaking, cattle working days) that can and will alter that schedule. We try to be flexible as long as the work gets done when it needs to be done. We have talked about a rotation schedule for weekends off, but have not officially implemented anything as of yet.
Housing: Apprentice would stay either in a cabin, sheep wagon or camper trailer. The cabin has a small kitchen, shower, bed and nearby outhouse.
Laundry: Our daughter Jessie has a washer and dryer in her house (next to the cabin or trailer) that she shares.
Internet availability: There is very good cell signal (we use Verizon) all over the home ranch, but Wi-Fi is best near Jim and Mary’s house or with an air card on their cell phone.
Cell Phone: Verizon works the best.
Time off: We strive for 1 day a week. When we are busy haying, it is difficult to meet that goal, but we make up for it later. Town is close enough they can, with permission, run errands during a week day in their own vehicle.
Visitors policy: That is all on a case by case basis. We don’t allow bringing somebody home from the bar! But it is OK, with permission, for family to visit.
Food: The apprentice will be provided with occasional ranch beef and wild game meat. They might also share a few meals with Jim and Mary, especially lunch during haying.
Pets: No dogs. Apprentice may be able to bring a horse with prior approval but will be decided on a case by case basis.
Tobacco and alcohol use: No tobacco use permitted. It is disallowed, and we’d prefer an apprentice not going to the bars in town. It is unsafe driving home and DUI’s are illegal. Driving a ranch vehicle while under the influence of drugs and alcohol is grounds for immediate dismissal.
Guns:Only with permission before arrival.
Health insurance: The ranching lifestyle has inherent dangers. While personal health insurance is not required to participate in the apprenticeship program, it is strongly encouraged. The farm carries Workman’s Compensation to cover injuries incurred on the job. But if the apprentice is injured on his or her day off, gets sick, or has or develops chronic conditions like allergies, these types of issues should be covered by personal health insurance.
COVID-19 policy: Apprentice will be required to take a Covid-19 test before arrival and possibly during their time here. Temperatures will also be taken and social distancing and masks are required.
Ranch vehicles: Apprentice will drive ranch vehicles during work hours. All vehicles are manual transmission.
Personal vehicle: While apprentices will not be asked to use a personal vehicle for work purposes, the apprentice will need the flexibility of his or her own vehicle on their days off in order to run personal errands such as purchasing groceries and for travel.
Additional items an apprentice should bring: It would be helpful if the apprentice brought a pillow, sheets and towels. We provide cooking utensils. The cabin also has a refrigerator and stove top burner and there’s a grill in the yard.
Living at Diamond 4 Ranch: Our home ranch is only 4 miles from Lander which makes town trips quick and easy. Lander has 2 grocery stores, restaurants and fast food joints, hardware and tire stores, a good medical clinic and hospital. It is a clean, friendly town.
Quivira Coalition Activities: This apprenticeship is offered through Quivira Coalition’s New Agrarian Program. The full cohort of apprentices on regenerative ranches and farms across the west will attend an April orientation, participate in supplemental education provided in partnership with Holistic Management International, and attend the annual Quivira Conference, hosted with Holistic Management International and the American Grassfed Association, in November. Apprentices are also required to write several reports during their apprenticeship; these reports will go through the NAP Coordinator at Quivira, and be posted on the Quivira website.
Issues an apprentice can help solve on our ranch:
We are required by the US Forest Service to use certified weed-free hay at our mountain guest ranch. That means we work closely with the county Weed and Pest district to control leafy spurge in our hay meadows. Our primary success in controlling weeds has been a change of management. We cut hay earlier and graze shorter periods, not season long. It also entails occasionally walking around with a 4 gallon backpack sprayer with 2-4D, a herbicide/water mix to spot spray. We do not mechanically spray entire fields. We have studied insect control and goat control. I am open to looking for another method of invasive weed control.
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